5 Tips for Teaching the Bible to Youth – by Ty Tamasaka
In the last year and a half, I’ve been teaching the Bible to youth grades 6-12 at our church. It’s been an interesting time because I’ve taught a number of adult classes and churches before and I’ve taught 5-6 graders before. Teaching grades 6-12 is both fun and challenging at the same time.
It’s fun because kids are honest and fun-loving. If you are a boring teacher, they’ll let you know. If they are having fun, they’ll let you know. If we create a culture where learning the Bible is fun, relevant, and dynamic, youth ministry can be a blast!
Teaching youth can be challenging because the kids range in maturity in these ages. The problems and issues a 6th grader faces, differs greatly from what a 12th grader faces. Also, the understanding of life in general differs greatly from a 6th grader to a 12th grader. It is challenging to not make the lessons too simplistic for the 12th graders while at the same time, not making it too complex for the 6th grader.
1 – Spend time in the Word of God personally before you share it publicly. If you are going to be teaching the Word of God to youth, it’s critical that you be reading the Word of God yourself. Don’t just study the Bible to teach a lesson to others. Read the Bible first to hear what God wants to say to you and how He wants to work in your life. The best lessons shared, are the lessons learned. If you are not in the Word of God regularly, you will have a hard time teaching the Word of God regularly.
If you aren’t sure where to begin on how to do daily devotions, I’ve written a blog post to help you in your journey. It has links directly to an online Bible reading plan and teaching you how to journal.
2 – Focus on one major take away. Sometimes when I preach in adult services, I’ll share 2-3 major points. In my experience, I find that 1 major take away point works best with youth (and often with adults too). As a preacher, I’d love for people to take away everything I share, but I understand that rarely happens.
After church, most parents will ask their kids two things. “Did you have fun? What did you learn?” Rather than having youth sift through their thoughts in a teaching that is jumbled with information, I do my best to give our kids one major takeaway point that they can hold onto throughout the week.
In doing so, I try to focus on one section of Scripture, or sometimes even one Bible passage and drive home the main point in as many creative ways as I am able to.
3 – Use an object lesson. Jesus often used object lessons and illustrations to paint a clear picture for those he taught. He used object lessons and illustrations when He spoke about the parables of the mustard seed and the soils. He used everyday items and stories when He spoke about the prodigal son and the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus was a master storyteller and He painted clear pictures using object lessons.
Whenever I share with youth (and adults for that matter), I find it helpful to have a good story, object, metaphor, or image to help enhance the teaching and drive home the main point. It takes time to put together a good object lesson, but in the end, it is worth it to help our teens take the Word of God into their hearts and out into their communities. Some helpful links I typically use are:
Egad Ideas. This is a great resource for games, activities, and object lessons. http://www.egadideas.com/
The Source for Youth Ministry. I really enjoy the ice breakers, sermon openers, and videos they suggest on this site. http://www.thesource4ym.com/
4 – Ask “What is one thing you take away from this morning?” I’ve learned this from our Senior Pastor who asked this question both when he taught at Bible College and in Bible studies.
During the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting, he will ask, “What is God saying to you this morning? What is one thing you take away this morning?”
This question helps youth to put their thoughts together and verbalize what the Lord taught them that morning and what point they will take home.
I find it helpful to give our youth a warning at the beginning of the lesson that this question is coming at the end of the morning so that they are able to think about it and prepare themselves during the teaching time. That way, when I ask the questions at the ending of service, it’s not like a pop quiz at the end of the teaching.
5 – Have fun. At the end of the day, youth will pick up if we are teaching them out of obligation or duty. Don’t make it a chore. Don’t make it a drag. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be willing to laugh at your mistakes. Don’t take your presentation too seriously. The Gospel is important to get out to our teens, but they need to know the person who is teaching them is not perfect. You and I are also broken sinners in need of the grace of God too.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book Starting Fresh: Following Jesus on the Adventure of a Lifetime in addition to More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.